Dizzying snow fell in helixes from the black, catching on thick white branches and roofs, and then drifting, with grace, onto the glistening ground. Akiko's half-shadow, cast through the window, was haloed across the snow within a rectangle of yellowing light. The television was off behind her, allowing her to appreciate the quiet poetry of the falling snow, but without it the silence was large. She watched, through the glass, as her footprints slowly disappeared beneath the mounting white.
Snow rendered her ambivalent: how could she fail to revere the beauty of it, a timeless beauty that fell and lifted with the audacity of love? It was treacherous though, and fleeting, and inevitably became sullied with the movement and trampling of life. She'd be seduced by its purity and forget that it was actually cold, drifting and thick with secrets.
She'd told Kosuke this one evening in Tokyo whilst lounging on cushions and drinking in wine, so he'd brought her here deliberately, smiling at her cynicism, telling her that she'd love the light. Admittedly, she had, and had painted the blues and pinks of it on the clear days whilst he traversed the ski fields, and then had revelled with him beneath the lacquer black night. On days it snowed and the view was obliterated behind the clouds, she had lain beneath the kotatsu heater watching classic films and game show repeats, blowing happy cigarette shapes against the two-tone window backdrop of white. They'd found warmth there, and the dove sky fascinated her. Icicles became ice pops, snowflakes were kisses and their lodge became an island in a sea of ice. He'd bought her a lipstick in the supermarket and presented it in paper, so she might throw her art outward, he'd said, and cast bright red against the pale outdoors. She'd been dazzled by the brightness and forgot to fear how easily the snow might make her slip. Kisses were currency and everything was free. Too soon though, their paint pots and cigarette packs were empty, signalling that it was time to return to life. Happier than they'd been, they vowed to return again soon. The purchasing of a little Akita pup had stated the intent in life.
Now she was there again, alone, pale on the tatami, next to the dog that was now grown. The light during the daytime had been the same sakura pink and cornflower blue as in her paintings, but the night now felt different: empty, cavernous and without stars. He was not there.